Hashim Amla does not have much to beat to be top South Africa runscorer in the four-Test series against England, which starts at Lord’s on Thursday.
His two main rivals haven’t even bothered to turn up. Okay, that’s a little harsh. Faf Du Plessis, the captain, is at home after the “difficult” birth of his first child and will definitely miss the first game, reducing his potential innings to a maximum of six.
The other big name missing is AB De Villiers. De Villiers, one of only four batsmen in the world who is considered fearsome in every format (David Warner, Joe Root and Virat Kohli are the others) is considering bringing his Test career to an end so is sitting the tour out.
So Amla is left standing as the one pillar of strength. He is +225 with Bet365 to finish as the top runscorer and that is terrific value because he is by far the classiest South African on show.
Amla is rated at the ninth best batsman in the world by the ICC and his technique and patience make him an ideal candidate to top the charts in often bowler-friendly conditions.
In England where the ball can seam and swing about it is crucial to have a watertight defence and an ability to play the ball late, with soft hands. Amla has that in spades.
Not surprisingly his record in England is nothing short of phenomenal. He averages 75 and he boasts three centuries in eight Tests. One of those centuries was an unbeaten triple century. So it’s fair to say he’s hot.
A case could be made for Quinton De Kock being value at +600 with Skybook on the basis that he is the top South African runscorer over the last 12 months and is rated ahead of Amla in the ICC rankings.
But we’re not happy with that wager. De Kock is a good player but he does not boast a subtle art. He is a blaster who goes hard at the ball and early. The complete opposite of Amla.
It could well pay off now and again down the order in this series but he doesn’t have the game to go as big as often as Amla.
Dean Elgar, the stand-in skipper, is +400 with William Hill. It’s not a bad alternative to Amla because he does have the obduracy required to knuckle down and occupy the crease for lengths of time in these conditions.
But, again, he is not close to Amla in terms of class. And if was being priced up on those terms you should add another few points on.